Goodland's downburst a 100-year event
By MIKE CORN
GOODLAND -- The rainfall that has swept over the western-most tier of Kansas counties is the kind that's only seen once every 100 years.
"This would occur, on average, every 100 years, a three-day total like this," said Scott Mentzer, the meteorologist in charge of the National Weather Service bureau in Goodland.
There's been so much rain that much of the area surrounding Goodland has been in something of a perpetual flood warning. Friday morning surveys prompted the weather service to cancel the warnings.
A portion of Interstate 70, however, was closed Friday due to water.
A 3-mile stretch of the highway's eastbound lanes was closed Friday, with traffic being diverted onto Old U.S. Highway 24.
The stretch was closed after the heavy rains "compromised a drainage pipe under the roadway," a statement from the Kansas Department of Transportation reported.
The closure is within the highway's 12-mile reconstruction project area.
Exactly how much rain has fallen is a troublesome total to get, because it's been something of a moving target.
Mentzer took a stab at it Friday: 6.09 inches in Goodland, over the course of a three-day period starting Wednesday.
"It's still raining," he said.
Thursday's one-day total of 4.11 inches was the second biggest 24-hour rainfall total in Goodland's history. The record is only slightly higher, the 4.15 inches of rain that fell on June 28, 1989.
Mentzer thinks Goodland might be the epicenter of the 100-year Kansas rain, although there's a number of sites reporting heavy rain.
One site about 23 miles southwest of Goodland reported 8.75 inches, but NWS personnel talked to the person reporting the amount, and it turned out to be a two-day total.
Still, that would be more than what Goodland has received.
Near Mount Sunflower in Wallace County -- a stone's throw from the Colorado line -- Ed and Cindy Harold say they've received about 6 inches, likely more.
"I knew they were predicting it was supposed to rain," Ed Harold said. "I didn't know it was supposed to be like this. It's still sprinkling now."
Northeast of Mount Sunflower, there was a single report of 8.32 inches for Thursday's rainfall, on top of 0.79 of an inch Wednesday.
Ed Harold isn't complaining about the heavy rain, saying the pastures had started deteriorating because of the hot, dry weather.
He suspects it will brighten up the pastures again.
"The buffalo grass is pretty resilient," he said.
Rain in Logan County to the east fairly well all soaked in, despite the big totals, said George "Pappy" Lies, the Logan County emergency management director who was out Friday at the behest of the National Weather Service to check flooding conditions.
"We have no flooding," he said as he drove west Friday. "Creeks and draws are running a little water. They're not running bank to bank. We have no flooding issues at all."
He suspects the same will be true in Gove County, where he also serves as emergency management director.
Lies said he received nearly 4 inches of rain at his house in Oakley.
"But it came over two days so it soaked in," he said.